How did you evolve the narrative for the video?
Like Leigh herself, STRANGE is fierce, original and extremely inventive. When approaching the video we knew we wanted to reflect the song’s futuristic/noir and trance-like tribal qualities, but at the same time keep the viewer engaged with its lyrics and the story-line. It had to make a distinctive fashion statement and it had to stand out. Along with the striking visual statement, it was highly important for me to add a level of meta-narrative, which manifested in a tailor-made grammatical language within the editing and the After Effect work. In this way, I aimed to create a ‘state of mind’, not in only ‘what’ you see but also in ‘how’ you see it (transitions between camera angles, and so on).
Making a music video is a new genre for you isn’t it?
For me, co-directing and editing a music promo was a challenging task, as the bigger part of my artistic practice to date has been in either creating title sequences for TV or in illustrating chamber or orchestral music for stage. Both genres do not tend to feature a singer or lyrics and are very different in length (either 30 seconds for a title sequences or 20-30 mins for a stage piece). Nevertheless, I knew that STRANGE could be a great opportunity for me: firstly, it was an excuse to work with Leigh again, and secondly, it gave me the artistic freedom to demonstrate my skills in the world of music promos – a genre that has always inspired me.
Tell us about the process of making it.
The making of STRANGE started a year and a half ago, when Leigh assembled an exciting cohort of (mostly) London-based designers to create the various ‘worlds’ for her video. From the pre-production stage it was clear how much thought had gone into all of the elements. There was a rich mix of locations (indoors and outdoors), costumes and make up, and a fantastic narrative in which Leigh plays multiple characters in a tale of love, death and resurrection.
The shoot was co-directed by Lance Roehrig, who came along with great expertise and experience in film language. Producer Alexander Hold, DoP Arron Reid (who shot on RED) and stylist Victor Velvet also added to a hard-edged creative team who worked in close collaboration over the three days of filming in both north and south London. In addition, choreographer Cameron McMillan (who I had worked with before) came in to develop a dynamic physical language and pace with Leigh and the two gorgeous minions, Foxy and Matthew.
For me, in a way, the long journey of STRANGE began only when the filming ended and I was left with a significant amount of footage to create the video. I wanted it to use the existing rules of music promo dialect, and at the same time offer a fresh twist on traditional editing grammar. The idea to introduce a kind of architectural disturbance to the frames in the edit came from my other strands of work, which are usually more abstract and often use elements from buildings that are then multiplied and transformed to create new patterns and textures on-screen.
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